1. Archive

St. Petersbrug City Council member Wengay Newton wants to hear from fire chief

St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton wants answers.

var doubleClickAd_1348699802594 = ''; document.write(doubleClickAd_1348699802594);

Newton wants Fire Chief Jim Large to provide quarterly updates to the council about Fire Department issues. Newton wants the council to discuss the idea at Thursday's City Council meeting.

Currently, the council receives quarterly updates from Police Chief Chuck Harmon.

Newton said he is troubled about a story published on March 30 in Tampa Bay Times about fire vehicles being "browned out" in order to save money. Public safety, he said, is the top priority of all public officials.

He said he also wants to know about issues before reading them in the newspaper.

"I think we should have an update and be allowed to ask questions," he said. "We're already dragging in the police chief. Something is wrong."

Brownouts, in which emergency units are kept idle for several hours or even a full day, are a controversial tool that fire departments have used to save money rather than pay for overtime. Talk of deeper budget cuts has prompted fears of more brownouts, or possible layoffs, putting certain neighborhoods at risk. Some City Council members were unaware of the practice until reading the story.